Making Chatbots Usable


Tips to Improve Chatbot UX

As chatbots are a relatively new development, there has yet to be a set of common standards or practices adopted for their design and function. These will come with time; and user testing and user experience will contribute significantly to how these criteria and principles are formed.

In the meantime learnings are already emerging from the chatbots in service and some basic rules can be and applied from the results of consumer interaction with them.

Here are a few tips on how to ensure that your bot is usable and friendly:

  1. Don’t let your chatbot ask unnecessary questions; make sure that once basic unique information is obtained (such as name and address) that the bot is able to link this to the rest of the user’s data and doesn’t have to continually follow-up with more queries;
  2. Make the introductory text to the discussion as brief and focused as possible; make sure it addresses only immediately relevant issues and lets the user know exactly what they are going to get;
  3. Don’t create expectations your bot can’t deliver e.g. if your bot cannot answer follow up questions to a topic, don’t give it the ability to initially impress and then disappoint. Its abilities have to be consistent and logical otherwise the user experience  will become one of frustration;
  4. Maintain a relatively stable persona – don’t start off in friendly chat mode and then change to technical or formal language partway through; this will simply confuse and annoy users;
  5. Try to anticipate the sorts of questions and issues the user is likely to have and answer using natural language – don’t be governed by industry or business jargon.
  6. Give users hints as to what are appropriate responses to questions – don’t just keep feeding back ‘I don’t understand’ or something similar; explain the problem and try to formulate the sort of answer the bot is expecting and can work with;
  7. Let the user know what the chatbot is doing: if it is searching or composing a response or list of choices, tell the user so they know they might be waiting, otherwise they are quite likely to quit thinking they have lost connection;
  8. Provide opportunities to fix errors, backtrack and undo actions so users will feel more comfortable and safe in the chatbot environment; and tell users how, where and when they can perform these actions;
  9. Keep messages short and relevant; many users will balk at a lengthy screed of text and they certainly shouldn’t have to scroll to read anything;
  10. Engage users early by asking simple questions, reflecting information back to them and generally acting in a human-type way to make them feel comfortable; people are likely to ask unpredictable questions from your bot so make sure they can answer them or at least engage in the transaction in a personable manner;
  11. Test, retest and modify all the way through; even when the bot is in service you can get feedback and views on how it working, what kind of user experience it provides, what people like and don’t like. Use all this to improve your offering as much as possible.

Chatbots are an exciting development but they need careful thought and planning and continual testing and review to make sure they are an asset and not a liability. If you would like to know more on how to go about this, why not ring us on +44(0)800 0246247 or email us at

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